Monday, August 10, 2009

Restaurant # 4: Fuku Fuku Fugu in Osaka

After spending two days in Tokyo, we headed to Osaka.
Osaka has a reputation for being a foodlover's paradise. After a long day of exploration, and sampling several Osaka streetfoods which I hope to discuss later, the time was right for a large multi-course Fugu meal!
Now the best season for Fugu was during winter, however, since i cant visit Japan as often as i would like, sampling Fugu was an absolute must for me on this trip.
The concierge at the Hilton Osaka recommended this restaurant to us.
I would highly appreciate it if someone can read the Kana name of the restaurant from the pictures below.
The restaurant served Tora-Fugu (Tiger Fugu), which was a highly sought after variety.
The website is:

Upon arrival we were greeted by an extremely friendly waitress, and led to our private room. Although small in size, the room was quite cozy, with a window view of the street below.
Although the waitress did not speak a single word of english, she was extremely adept at "animated" gestures. We had no problem whatsoever communicating with her, in fact it was quite an experience for us. Our limited knowledge of Japanese can only take us so far...
Upon inquiring about the Fugu, the waitress decided to introduce us to our unsuspecting victim.
Couldnt help but feel sorry for the poor guy, he almost looked like a puppy in that little bucket of his.

What better way to start a Fugu meal than some Sake infused with Charbroiled Fugu Fin..
The Sake had taken a slight Charred-Fugu flavor, the fin itself was slightly bitter due to the charring.

The first course was the Fugu skin, which was perhaps unsurprisingly, extremely gelatenous in texture. It had surprisingly little taste, and so took on the taste of the ponzu dressing. The texture was amusing, and the sauce itself was rather refreshing.

Next Came the Fugu sashimi. It was characteristically tough in texture, and distinctively sweet in flavor, just as I had expected.
It was served with chives and grated radish with chilli.

The sashimi was followed by deep fried chunks of Fugu, served with Matcha salt and a lemon wedge. The texture here was somewhat comparable to chicken, while retaining the sweetness of the Fugu. Although usually apprehensive of fried foods, i did particularly enjoy this course, as it seemed well prepared and not excessively oily.

This course was a plump piece of Fugu sashimi on baby chinese cabbage, served with onions, chives, grated radish eaten with a ponzu dip. Very Fresh.

My fiancee, Maya, was very apprehensive of the "poisonous" status of the Fugu, and perhaps her apprehension was coupled with some pity for our victim after being introduced to it, so she decided to go with a lobster course instead.
The above consisted of a few items that were to be char-grilled on a portable coal grill.
These included naturally, some Fugu for us, deep fried Tofu garnished with what the waitress described as shrimp brains, pink bars that were made of rice and perhaps some dried shrimp, some shitake mushrooms, and finally a whole lobster, heart still beating and all.
The grilled Fugu was quite good, it toughens up quite a bit, and although quite chliche, I found its texture closely resembled that of chicken breast.
Deep fried Tofu is one of the delights that i discovered on my trip to Japan. The texture and flavor of deep fried Tofu are very interesting... Shame it is nowhere to be found here in Dubai.
The most interesting part of the above course was the grilled rice cake. After it was heated on the grill its texture became extremely sticky. It was delicious!
Thinking of all the rice based treats that we had in Japan, I can't help but have my mouth water!

The lobster's beating heart stalled Maya's appetite for a few minutes. Guess Japan is not a place for squeamish eaters! Although fresh lobster, live from the tank, is widely available here, the eater is only exposed to his victim after cooking.

The hulking mound of Fugu meat seen above was to be used for the Fugu Hotpot. The serving size was massive, at this point i couldnt help but thinking that several fish had probably fallen victim to our appetites!
The Fugu meat itself was extremely lean, with very low levels of fat, and the meal itself was very healthy.

For the hotpot, using the gas burner that our room was already equipped with, the waitress first boiled some kelp to flavor the broth, then removed the seaweed so that we may start boiling the fish, along with the other vegetables that were on offer.

Accompanying the veggies was.... Even more Fugu! Guess the serving entailed more Fugu than could fit on that measely plate that i pictured earlier. The veggies were Enoki mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, and the greens pictured in the middle of the plate, the name of which seems to have escaped my memory.

After consuming scores of Fugu chunks, the waitress added rice, eggs, and spring onion to the broth creatining a rice hotpot and effectively bringing our Fugu feast to a close.
Im definately doing this again the next time I visit Japan. And this restaurant comes highly recommended , if you are in Osaka and looking to have some Fugu, check it out.
We payed, i think it was around 5000 JPY (54 USD) per person for the Fugu Course, and around 3500 JPY (38 USD) for the Lobster. I think it was reasonably priced for the quantity of food we got.

After we were done, we met the chef to whom we had entrusted our lives. He seemed dangerously laid back, and even joked that we would probably not wake up the next morning! I remember thinking before the meal that eating Fugu was a dangerous endeavour reserved for special occasional banquets, however, after this meal it became clear to me that it was just as routine and normal as any other type of fish and that the chances of getting poisoned at a restaurant are close to nill. The little info that I had known about Fugu came to me through western sources such as documentaries that sought to make it seem more exotic and dangerous than it actually was. I was later surprised to see how widespread the eating of Fugu was, as we routinely saw Fugu served at non specialist stores and even some Yakiniku restaurants.

1 comment:

  1. Rabih,

    This restaurant looks like a good find! It's called Fuku Fuku, and a quick search on Google yields the restaurant's website: